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Tasmanian Council pushes ahead with by-laws banning people from public places

Tasmanian Council pushes ahead with by-laws banning people from public places
September 23, 2018

The Clarence City Council in southern Tasmania is pushing ahead with a by-law that allows it to ban people from public places, despite concern from the Tasmania's Police Commissioner that it may "impinge against people's civil liberties".

Opponents of the by-law have warned it also bans activities such as beach cricket without a permit.

As reported by the ABC, the change to the Public Places By-Law gives the Council's General Manager power to ban an individual from a specific place if they are repeatedly causing a public nuisance.

In a submission in February, Tasmanian Police Commissioner Darren Hine said the consultation draft did not adequately define the operation, scope or limitations of "such a strong new power".

Commissioner Hine advised “the proposed new power allowing for the general manager to ban a person from a public place if they have offended against the by-law is a significant power for a by-law and may be an unintended over reach that impinges against people's civil liberties.”

In a statement, the Council’s acting General Manager, Ian Nelson, said the Council had been undertaking a 10-year review of the Public Places By-Law as required by legislation, and other Councils had similar provisions.

Nelson advised “the aim is to allow the general manager to regulate the use of a public place to ensure the public's right to peaceful and safe enjoyment of that place.”

The by-law also states that a person in a public place must not conduct any sporting activity without a permit, that a person in a public place must not play or practice ball games unless in an area designation for that purpose and that the organisation or participation in an ‘assembly’ or rally also requires a permit or licence.

Peter McGlone from the Tasmanian Conservation Trust said people would be shocked at how many activities needed a permit.

McGlone told the ABC “the council has rushed this so much that they probably don't even realise that unless (they) signpost at a beach in Clarence to say 'you're allowed to play beach cricket', they've banned beach cricket.”

Peter Edwards with the Rosny Hill Friends Network described the by-law around public assembly as "over the top".

Edwards added “they are trying to crack down on protests, because there have been four or five major rallies on the Eastern Shore recently.

"That is a threat to democracy, that is a threat to our freedom of speech."

Nelson said the Council had a duty to regulate public places and as part of that, required groups and organisations to seek permission to use a public place for formally organised group activities, concluding "informal use of public places for uses such as beach cricket, picnics and informal group activities does not, and will not, require a permit or licence."

Image: Clarence City Council's plans coulc ban activities such as beach cricket without a permit.

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